Trusted Media

Media are generally better trusted than governments, and television is the most trusted of all media according to a global poll commissioned by the BBC, Reuters and The Media Center. The survey, which questioned about 10,000 adults in 10 countries reported that Fox and CNN were most frequently mentioned as trustworthy in the United States. A BBC news release and 21-page poll report suggest that young people consume news differently, hint at the growing prominence of online sources, and reinforce the link between branding and trust — even though the brand names may be changing.

“Online news sources were the first choice among 19% of 18-24 year-olds, compared to just 3% of those aged 55-64,” the BBC reported perhaps to no surprise.

To the extent that heavily-wired South Korea is a harbinger of things to come, the Internet will become much more important to the overall news mix as other nations get more and better broadband. According to the poll, “about one-third of South Koreans (34%) consider the internet to be their primary source of news, considerably ahead of the second-ranked US, where 14% choose to go online first.”

Most remarkably perhaps given their relative novelty is the level of trust accorded to three online news brands, Google, Yahoo and MSN. One goal of the poll was to rate the global credibility of the BBC, which ranked top in trust (48 percent said a lot or some trust), leading CNN (with 44 percent). But as the BBC reported, “Younger web brands were also shown to have won significant public trust: Google (30%), Yahoo! (28%) and Microsoft/MSN (27%).” That finding is all the more remarkable when the BBC reports that Newsweek and Time came in next on the trust ranking with 25 percent and 24 percent, respectively. In the case of Time, more than 80 years of brand-building has been surpassed in a decade.

The survey does not speculate on why these new web sources have achieved such high trust but a couple of factors suggest themselves, starting with name recognition. In addition these sites aggregate news from various sources. Is that perceived as lessening slant or bias? That’s just a surmise. All in all this poll seems to reinforce the power of mass media — with the top Internet brands joining the big names in TV and print.